GPGPU’s & CAD – Dell Precision Appliance for Wyse

I work as a Principle ProSupport Analyst at Dell with specialization in VDI and Virtualization technologies, so I get the opportunity to see & play with some of the coolest technology for the Enterprise.  My admitted bias here is that a lot of the Virtualization products I’ll talk about here are on Dell Platforms – I’ve got to keep my job you know, and I’m pretty sure that neither Dell or my wife will approve of purchasing an HP or IBM/Lenovo server to test stuff out on.  Take it for what it is worth.

I’m currently working through the finer support details of the Dell Precision Appliance for Wyse.  This is a fantastic application of almost Server-Class hardware, High Resolution GPGPU video and Remote Access, all in one package.  The tricky part is that the DPAfW is what is known as a “Reference Architecture” and is kind of a “You need to do 1-8 instances of CAD in your DataCenter and access it remotely?  Well, here’s the parts and a tool to do the basic configuration!  Enjoy!!”

Historically, high-end graphic systems required for CAD rendering, Oil & Gas visualizations, Movie & Game rendering happened on a really nice PC and took a while to do – all while the PC was housed under someone’s desk at work or at home.  The need for data security, protecting the Intellectual Property (IP) of what is being designed, mixed with the need for higher end processing and graphics capability has enabled the migration of these systems into the Datacenter, where the server is protected from physical access, has A/C and conditioned power (with battery backups) and periodic backup of Corporate IP.

Dell has offered a single user version of this for quite a few years in the R5400/R5500/R7610 Precision Rackmount Workstations.  Very high end graphics workstations that can handle the power and heat load of most graphics cards with the advantages of RAID redundancy for storage.  These leveraged Teradici Host Access Cards (PCoIP) cards for remote access and using Dell Optiplex FX100 endpoints – Teradici hardware based thin clients.

The latest version of this is the Dell Precision Appliance for Wyse, which comes in 2 flavors and now leverages DellWyse Teradici based Thin Clients:

  • Dedicated GPGPU – R7910 running ESXi 6.0, 3x nVidia Quadro 4200 GPGPU cards, 3x Teradici Host Access Cards, supports up to 3 virtual desktops leveraging Quadro 4200 video and remotely accessed via Wyse P25/P45 endpoints.  Wiring diagram for dual monitor configuration:

DedicatedGPGPU

 

  • Shared GPGPU – R7910 running ESXi 6.0, 2x nVidia K2 GPGPU cards, supports 4 or 8 virtual desktops leveraging 1/2 or 1/4 of each K2 card (via K2 Shared GPGPU Configuration) and accessed via Wyse P25/P45 endpoints.

Both versions of the DPAfW are designed to work with a “Quick Start Tool” that will do basic configuration of ESXi based on what video cards are detected onboard ESXi.  Here’s a nice video walkthrough of the QST by one of it’s developers.

… more to come.

So, who am I?

Howdy!  My name is Scott Anderson and I’ve been doing “IT Stuff” for over 25 years now with high level certifications in Microsoft & Citrix technologies.  Well… more like 30+ years of IT if you go back to 1982 when my Dad dropped about $1200 for a RadioShack TRS-80 Model III with 48K of Ram and _dual_ single density floppy drives (I can boot TRS-DOS and run Apps too, with extra storage without having to swap floppy disks!!).  It was then when I fell in love with computing – managing data – making things go.

From there, I went to Kilgore Jr. College and got my A.S. in Data Processing and moved on to Texas A&M to get a degree in Computer Science.  Sadly, after a semester and a half, we both mutually parted ways on the basis of “not meeting expectations”.  I found I wasn’t cut out to be a “coder” or Electrical Engineer (although it would have been cool), and also found that high level classes that are taught by TA’s or Professors that are focused on research and writing their next awesome book so they can get tenure.  That didn’t make for a very good educational experience.

That’s when my education took a detour through the world of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences.  It’s there that I found how to apply my Analytical skills to the research process, having had the opportunities to work with several gifted Professors on the Research Methodology, Data Collection & Analysis side of the world through the end of my Bachelor’s and on into my Master’s program.  SPSS & SAS were my friends and with the use of DBase IV, I could slice a rather large data set into the appropriate pieces for useful statistical analysis.

After graduating from Texas A&M with my M.S., I headed to the “Silicon Prairie” which is also known as The University of Illinois to study, what else but… Leisure Studies.  Thanks to a Graduate Assistantship working on Departmental computers and servers, I learned that I was more interested in working with end users and helping them use computers instead of the Social Theory of Leisure (no offense, Jack Kelly).

So after dropping out of PhD. school, it was time to get a real job.  After 10.5 years of post-High School education, it was time.  My first real job was doing help desk for CSC-Intelicom in Champaign, IL and my first experience with VDI.  This was in 1996, folks!! CSC had a SCO-Unix server running Hydra (pre-Terminal Services) and end users were accessing Windows 3.11 desktops from mainframe terminals with 10MB Ethernet cards with BootP eproms.  This worked famously, until they got a MS Office Macro virus inside the Hydra virtual system via Outlook, and no one knew what to do – it was virtualized and running on SCO-Unix, so we couldn’t just boot the Hydra system to a floppy and clean it up…  Fortunately, I figured that if the macro virus came in via email, so can the cleanup.  We emailed the virus cleaner to one of the employees using the Hydra environment, detached it and ran it inside of the virtual environment.  Problem solved.

I’ve worked several different places since then and now work at Dell ProSupport doing Microsoft Platform, VDI & VDI EUC support, but still use the same common sense approach to troubleshooting problems:  lot’s of questions, define the scope, then get to work fixing it.

My plan with this blog is to share some answers and research that I’ve been doing with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) so that someone won’t have to “recreate the wheel” or have to dig in 46 different places to get enough information to do something right the first time.

Thanks for reading,

Scott